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James Beard’s Amazing Persimmon Bread

January 12, 2010

I have to admit I wasn’t really impressed with persimmons the few times Ive had them. Not that I didn’t like them, but back then they just seemed foreign to me and I couldn’t really pick out anything that really impressed me about them. Since I’m currently in the New Year’s spirit of stepping out of the box and sampling new things, I decided to give them another chance. I found an intriguing recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog (originally from James Beard’s book Beard on Bread) and set out on a culinary adventure. I have to say the bread lives up to David’s description and it’s perfectly moist and not overly sweet.  It comes out heartier than banana bread and is sweet in a more interesting sort of way.  I made mine with walnuts and dates and found the combination wonderful.  I also used the Fuyu persimmon, since that was all i could find. Im guessing it didn’t make much of a difference, except that this variety is much smaller than the Hachiya kind, so I had to use twice as many to yield the amount needed. The good thing about the Fuyu persimmon is that it doesn’t have to be overly ripe and squishy in order to be edible (but I still picked out the ripest ones). I also discovered that the persimmon puree sets almost instantly in the bowl that you pour in into. This got me really excited and thinking about ideas for a super easy (and raw!) dessert using only persimmon puree along with some light spices, potentially served along with fruit (or fruity sauce, or cream)…think pana-cotta style.

I just cut them up in quarters and peeled off the skins.

holding the set puree in my hand (so cool!):

the beautiful batter:

fresh out of the oven:


via David Lebovitz

(I only have one loaf pan, so I halved everything, but this recipe makes two 9-inch loaves)

3½ cups sifted flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 2½ cups sugar (David suggests using the higher amount, I used a bit less, about 2 & 1/4 cups)
1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Cognac (or bourbon or whiskey)
2 cups persimmon puree (from about 8 squishy-soft Fuyu persimmons)
2 cups walnuts (or other nut)
2 cups diced dates (or another dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, etc)

1. Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins.

5. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Storage: Will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature. The Persimmon Breads take well to being frozen, too.

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